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Adaptive business rules framework for workflow management

Kanana Ezekiel (Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing, School of Computing and Digital Media, London Metropolitan University, London, UK)
Vassil Vassilev (Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing, School of Computing and Digital Media, London Metropolitan University, London, UK)
Karim Ouazzane (Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing, School of Computing and Digital Media, London Metropolitan University, London, UK)
Yogesh Patel (Callsign, London, UK)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 25 October 2018

Issue publication date: 19 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Changing scattered and dynamic business rules in business workflow systems has become a growing problem that hinders the use and configuration of workflow-based applications. There is a gap in the existing research studies which currently focus on solutions that are application specific, without accounting for the universal logical dependencies between the business rules and, as a result, do not support adaptation of the business rules in real time. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

To tackle the above problems, this paper adopts a bottom-up approach, which puts forward a component model of the business process workflows and then adds business rules which have clear logical semantics. This allows incremental development of the workflows and semantic indexing of the rules which govern them during the initial acquisition.

Findings

The paper introduces an event-driven model for development of business workflows which is purely logic-based and can be easily implemented using an object-oriented technology, together with a model of the business rules dependencies which supports incremental semantic indexing. It also proposes a two-level inference mechanism as a vehicle for controlling the business process execution and the process of adaptation of the business rules at real time based on propagating the dependencies.

Research limitations/implications

The framework is strictly logical and completely domain-independent. It allows to account both synchronous and asynchronous triggering events as well as both qualitative and quantitative description of the conditions of the rules. Although our primary interest is to apply the framework to the business processes typical in the construction industry we believe our approach has much wider potential due to its strictly logical formalization and domain independence. In fact it can be used to control any business processes where the execution is governed by rules.

Practical implications

The framework could be applied to both large business process modelling tasks and small but very dynamic business processes like the typical digital business processes found in online banking or e-Commerce. For example, it can be used for adjusting security policies by adding the capability to adapt automatically the access rights to account for additional resources and new channels of operation which can be very interesting ion both B2C and B2B applications.

Social implications

The potential scope of the impact of the research reported here is linked to the wide applicability of rule-based systems in business. Our approach makes it possible not only to control the execution of the processes, but also to identify problems in the control policies themselves from the point of view of their logical properties – consistency, redundancies and potential gaps in the logics. In addition to this, our approach not only increases the efficiency, but also provides flexibility for adaptation of the policies in real time and increases the security of the overall control which improves the overall quality of the automation.

Originality/value

The major achievement reported in this paper is the construction of a universal, strictly logic-based event-driven framework for business process modelling and control, which allows purely logical analysis and adaptation of the business rules governing the business workflows through accounting their dependencies. An added value is the support for object-oriented implementation and the incremental indexing which has been possible thanks to the bottom-up approach adopted in the construction of the framework.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The research reported here has been partially funded by Vertiv (Global Headqusrters – Columbus, Ohio, USA).

Citation

Ezekiel, K., Vassilev, V., Ouazzane, K. and Patel, Y. (2019), "Adaptive business rules framework for workflow management", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 948-971. https://doi.org/10.1108/BPMJ-08-2017-0219

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited